Lord Robert Armstrong, cabinet secretary under Mrs Thatcher and one of  key negotiators of the  agreement,  at an event marking the agreement’s 30th anniversary in  Trinity College Dublin last November. Photograph: Eric Luke

During the framing of the historic Anglo-Irish Agreement of November 1985, Garret FitzGerald took the opportunity of a joint meeting in Lisbon to comp(...)

Garret FitzGerald shakes hands with  Margaret Thatcher during talks in November 1985. Photograph: Pat Langan

Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, confided to the Irish ambassador Noel Dorr that before the 1983 election, she had “very m(...)

Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey signs copies of the New Ireland Forum’s report in May 1984. Haughey initially opposed the subsequent Anglo-Irish Agreement. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Every major political breakthrough requires significant imagination and courage. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was Margaret Thatcher’s Nixon to China mome(...)

Peter Barry, Dick Spring, Garret FitzGerald, Margaret Thatcher, Geoffrey Howe and Tom King at the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985

The Anglo-Irish Agreement of November 15th, 1985 was formally abjured by the British and Irish governments on April 10th, 1998 as a key concession to (...)

‘Migrants  and refugees board a train after they cross  the border between Macedonia and Greece, near the town of Gevgelija.’  Photograph: EPA/NAKE BATEV

Once in a while, Seamus Heaney tells us, something can “catch the heart off guard and blow it open”. This time it was a picture of Aylan Kurdi, a well(...)

 Noel Dorr: raising such matters required a well thought-out approach as it would be wrong for a visiting delegation to make their hosts feel as if they were saying: “We’re better than you.”  ,

Ministers on trade missions should raise concerns about human rights abuses when visiting states where such issues exist, but only to a point their ho(...)

Late British prime minister  Margaret Thatcher photographed in September 2008. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

President Michael D Higgins has described Margaret Thatcher as one of the “most conviction-driven British prime ministers who drew on a scholar(...)